Alright guys, I’ve been putting this off for some time now, but it needs to be addressed. The Red Sox bullpen is doody. It stinks worse than the bottom of a rancher’s shoe and you wouldn’t even know it looking at the numbers.
Red Sox bullpen enters tonight with a 3.38 ERA, the 6th best mark in the majors.
1. Astros 3.02
2. D-backs 3.07
3. Yankees 3.11
4. A’s 3.26
5. Cubs 3.30
6. Red Sox 3.38
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) August 8, 2018
ERA, as Sox fans are learning, isn’t the end all be all of the bullpen. There’s layers to trusting a bullpen and recently the Sox haven’t been hitting on any of them.
Ryan Braiser is somehow the most reliable guy over the last few weeks on a team with Craig Kimbrel. Not good.
Cora has been on the lookout for an eighth inning guy and, despite some moments from Kelly early on, and two weeks of Thornberg excellence, Cora hasn’t found one.
Last night against the Phillies, we got a dosage of Hembree and Kimbrel to close out Porcello’s great start. And as the Sox have been known to do, they finished the Phillies off in pain-staking fashion.
In the series against Baltimore, the Red Sox' bullpen allowed seven runs while absorbing 22.1 innings, good for a 2.82 ERA (better than any bullpen in baseball has this season).
This has, of course, incited mass panic.
— Ben Buchanan (@BenLBuchanan) August 13, 2018
The hard part about getting on this bullpen is the lineup is so dominant every night that their suckiness doesn’t usually ruin their chances of winning.
But, the Phillies are one of the better pitching staffs in baseball, and all three contests with them so far show that, in the playoffs, the Sox will find themselves having to grind out a lot of games. The big question is will the bullpen stay standing when they’re punched in the mouth.
I think that is all up to two guys in particular.
Eduardo Rodriguez threw live BP- Cora said he looked good. Next step will be another live BP before a rehab assignment.
— Guerin Austin (@guerinaustin) August 10, 2018
Craig Kimbrel hasn't had a 1-2-3 inning since his last appearance before the All-Star break, which was July 15 against Toronto.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) August 15, 2018
Now it’s obvious Kimbrel needs to be better. The eye test and stats support that. There are about 5-6 weeks left of the season for him to tweak and find a groove. You have to just trust in a guy of his caliber to hopefully figure it out.
The second man, E-rod, may be a controversial one. The third starter in the playoffs is by no means locked up.
However, with Price’s recent dominance and Porcello’s efficiency as of late, it may be worth using E-rod exactly how they used Price last year. In the bullpen.
His velocity in short usage will be valuable as well as adding a lefty to the mix.
The bullpen is the only facet to the Sox game that gives fans any type of repeated stress. This is not only a great team, but it’s arguably the best one in franchise history. Cora has instilled trust in everyone in the locker room and around the city.
Keep that faith. They’re going to be okay.
P.S. I wrote this while helping my grandmother shop for groceries. That’s just who I am. Team guy.